Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Comment On What Makes A Hard Signed Card

To me, on card signatures have the rare ability to make a bad product better. They add a whole extra element of a set that becomes immediately more collectible because the signatures are not applied by someone other than the players themselves. There is much more room for the player to sign, provides space for creativity in the signature, and most importantly, looks better than a label without a doubt. Upper Deck has long been the company that has moved completely towards on card signatures with more than a handful of products done completely without labels. SP Authentic, Exquisite, Ultimate, Heroes, Black, Philadelphia, Draft, and others have all featured signatures that are hard signed without gimmicky ways of trying to fit into that category. For these sets, the autographs are signed onto the card itself, not some cloth manu-patch piece that is pre-built and signed at the rookie premiere or something. Granted, not all of the sets are done completely with good examples, and there are ones that use horrible half-gimmicks for their "on card" autos, but there sure are a lot that are done the right way.

Recently I read an interview with Panini where they got on the subject of on card autos versus stickers. They were talking about how with the Basketball products they were going to try to get as many on card signed parts to their sets as possible. They touted that they were already focusing on providing collectors with on card signatures and used Prestige as an example. Here is what I am referring to (the bold is mine):

"Panini came in and listened to collectors, as you can see by the increase in on-card autographs starting with Prestige. We feel that our wide array of non-sticker autographs helps give our products that added value, but our goal is to incorporate as many on-card autographs into our programs as we can, without passing that cost onto the collector. "

I will say that Panini has made a small effort to "increase" the amount of non-sticker autos in their products, but there is FAAAAAAAAR from a "wide array." The manu-patch autos that Panini is counting as hard signed have been included in not one, not two, but three different products. These are not on card signatures in any way to me. Aside from being stupid, gimmicky, and ugly, they are a cop out in the hard signed realm of this business. Upper Deck and Topps both used manu-patches similar to these, but Upper Deck has far surpassed any on card offering in other aspects, thus giving them the opportunity to do so. Topps does not hide their love for labels, and does not try to blow smoke up our asses in saying that they are giving up on theirs. I hate their labels, but at least there is no bullshit on what to expect.

Panini does not have any focus at all on the hard signed elements of their products, and when they do try to break the mold, you either get this, or something like this. So, it means that when Panini does get around to actually getting on card stuff in their sets, they are awful at it. They either use horrible pens that bubble and look shitty, or they use paint pens that chip, smear and look amateurish. Then, to say you have a "wide array" of on card offerings is total and utter crap.

Bottom line, an on card signature is a signature signed on the card. Its not on a manu-patch, its not on a letter, its on the fucking card. Even if there is a set filled with redemptions, its still on card signatures that we know and love. Perpetrating some half assed attempt at trying to pass off shit as gold is not going to make anyone happy. Regardless of this stupid marketing ploy, hard signed autos need to be the rule rather than the exception, regardless of company, redemptions or no redemptions. I will wait for quality, I will not put up with rushed crap.


  1. Gellman-

    I have to step in and say that your analysis here is very far off base in regards to the quote from Panini and therefore the thrust of your argument is totally invalid.

    (1) In the quote it appears that they are talking specifically in terms of their basketball product (which by the way they had more time to prepare for then they did with Football). So when they are talking about "Prestige" I believe they are talking about Basketball and you have to admit that they did increase their on-card elements in that set. They do have stickers in their rookie auto base cards, but most of their inserts including high draft picks and veteran stars are almost all on card and they look really good.

    (2) In your argument you conflate quotes to fit your agenda. They never said "wide array of on-card autos"....they said "wide array of non-sticker autos" and therefore you can attack them as if they are claiming a wide-array of your definition of hard signed (with your strong emphasis on on-card).

    Could they do better in football? Yes. Will they hopefully do better next year with more time to learn the ins and outs and build with time? Yes. Can you attack them for their football products as part of the argument when they obviously are talking about basketball? Well not really and to be fair I see prestige basketball as a sign of what they hopefully will be doing in the future for football.

    Check some of these out:

    Blake Griffin

    Mike Bibby

    Bob McAdoo


    Are there still too many stickers in the set? Yes, but c'mon Gellman I know you are smart enough to realize context of quotes and have the ability to step outside and analyze the statement in that instance. What you are doing seems to be nothing more than if someone were to rag on Upper Deck for its failure in autos by using past issues like (08 draft) as an example.

    Does Upper Deck still rule the market of on-card autos? Yes. And it is understandable why you like them so much, but with Panini actually making moves towards more on-card issues with their basketball product (probably the first line they didn't "rush" to produce like their football line) one has to be at least somewhat excited, but instead you beat them down over past issues.

    Seriously Gellman. Seriously.

  2. I just typed a two page long response to this comment and it got deleted when the shit said my cookies were disabled. Instead Im going to say this.

    The point of this is that if Panini is going to tout that they have a wide array of non-sticker autos and that they are going to focus on it, they better actually focus on making on card sigs for more than one basketball set.

  3. I take back everything I said supporting Panini after seeing that product after product of basketball is still littered with stickers...